The top brass of the East Hampton Town Police Department visited a meeting of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday to address speeding and other concerns on Second House Road in the hamlet.
Chief Edward V. Ecker Jr., Capt. Mike Sarlo, who will take over as chief in late December, and Lt. Chris Hatch, the Montauk precinct commander, told the group that enforcement of existing speed limits would be the key to solving the problems that residents are having.
Enforcement, including overtime officers, was increased on the road at the end of the summer, the officers said, and soon the department will post a piece of equipment similar to the trailers that display speed limits. It will be able to collect data — speed limits, times, and other information — from the vehicles that drive on the narrow two-lane artery, some of which has a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit and includes a 20-mile-per-hour, two-block school zone.
The extra enforcement has lowered speeds, Chief Ecker said. “We can’t be there 24 hours a day, but I really think it has already helped.”
Residents of the road, which connects with Industrial Road and has a 40-mile-per-hour limit in some places, said that traffic has increased immensely since establishments such as Ruschmeyer’s and Solé East opened and brought with them speeding trucks, loud, intrusive taxis, and other vehicles that are making it dangerous to walk on the road. It has only intermittent sidewalks.
“For that road, 40 miles per hour is too fast,” Kim Esperian told those gathered. “I can no longer walk there. I’ve put my house up for sale because I can no longer live there.” She said there are now hundreds of taxis routinely traveling the road, and most of them are speeding.
Ms. Esperian’s mother, Lola Snow, said she is outside almost all day gardening and watches the traffic. “I see it as an accident waiting to happen. And it will happen, and when it does, we’ll all remember these meetings.”
Another resident, Joan Palumbo, called the speeding cars death traps because of the number of deer on the road, which borders Fort Pond and several wooded areas.
Captain Sarlo told residents that the traffic problems are not unique to Montauk. “Townwide, all of the ancillary roads have become worse as the town has grown. It’s not as safe as it used to be, and we have to take that into consideration.”
Lieutenant Hatch said that since January 2010 there have been six accidents on Second House Road — three due to snow, one because of a deer, one caused by speeding, and another a result of a driver’s failing to stop at a stop sign. Since then, 168 summonses have been issued there.
Steve Lynch, the town’s highway superintendent, said that lowering the speed limit to 20 there is not possible because of state laws. When it was suggested that the allowable weight limit be decreased, he said that was something that could be looked into.
Residents suggested that the town explore extending the sidewalk on the southern portion of the road. All seemed in favor.
When the police officials left, talk turned to erosion in downtown Montauk, which has been a hot topic ever since Hurricane Sandy blew through a year ago, but even more so in the last few weeks, since the Army Corps of Engineers informed the town that it would do a beach reconstruction project in Montauk using federal money.
After a lengthy discussion, in which Steve Kalimnios, the owner of the severely affected Royal Atlantic motel, said he was thankful that everyone was finally on the same page about sand replenishment, the committee approved two resolutions asking the town to broaden the range of study from downtown to include the beaches east up to the Ditch Plain area and to hire an outside coastal engineer to study the recommendations submitted by the Army Corps.
It was also announced at the meeting that the Concerned Citizens of Montauk’s meet-the-candidates forum would be held on Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Montauk Firehouse.